“I became a trustee of Emmaus Dover in 2015. It felt like a natural move for me, as I run my own lettings company and used to be a board member of a housing association.

I think it’s my knowledge of the sector and commercial focus that I bring to the team. As I’m involved in housing locally, I can share helpful contacts with Emmaus and I’m always up to date on the latest goings on with housing benefit, as it’s something I deal with on a day-to-day basis. I still work full time, so it’s a juggling act, but I hope I’ve been able to add some value to the community.

Before the pandemic, I used to visit the community for lunch as often as I could, as that’s when you get to see everyone and can spend time chatting to staff and companions (formerly homeless people now supported by Emmaus Dover). I made a point of doing that, because it was the best way to see as many people as possible and be visible in the community.

I don’t want to be someone the companions just see on a bit of paper. I’d rather be part of it. I try to help out whenever we do events and jumble sales because I really enjoy it and it’s a good opportunity to work with the companions and staff. The staff put in so much extra time. They don’t just work their 9 – 5. They give over and above, so I think it’s important that I help out whenever I can.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a trustee was when I took over as Chair of the board, as it was hard trying to manage my time. But what the community has achieved has been a real highlight. Especially with the Building a Better Future project, where we’ve helped raise money to restore the community site at Archcliffe Fort.

Being a voice for Emmaus Dover is what my role as a trustee is all about. You don’t have to work 24/7, just giving a bit of your time can be really valuable. If you’ve got a local focus and want to be part of a community, Emmaus Dover is perfect for that. Different people bring different things to the board, so it’s great to have a well-rounded team, and we all have a laugh as well.

Running your own business can feel quite lonely sometimes, so, personally, I really enjoy being part of the community there. Emmaus Dover gives people the chance to get back on their feet and improve their self-worth through working and training. We’ve got companions who have been with us for years and companions who come and go, and whatever they want to do is fine by us. I’m fortunate enough to have never been on the streets, so I can’t pretend to know what it’s like, but it’s humbling to listen to their stories, to hear what they’ve been through and learn from them.

Emmaus Dover is really special. Everything the companions do is about giving back to people less fortunate than themselves, because they were there once.”